Overheard at the Dominant Group Status Threat Conference
Chankas and sassafras… I shit on the new year… You cause sensation, ugh… Tributaries of terpitude, moral and otherwise, is thankfully sullen and dullard… Yeah, I shopped at Sears junior bazaar… Falstaff the malt liquor?… Elsie the cow… Learn how to swim at the YMCA… Remember the Campfire Girls?… Deliver a white room in a purr purr kitty rollover… There’s always one late comer, you know… Buford and the pussycats… Hilly faced numbskulls and attached silly string wikki wachee watchers, nothing is intransigent until it’s it’s no longer transitive… I’m walking over here… I’m dying over here… Out act you?… Chew more scenery than who?… I’d rather be living in a cave… Nobody gets too much heaven no more… I’m getting vaccinated when my turn comes around… Moving to Las Vegas…
What I’m Reading, or: What I Just Finished Reading (a continuing series)
Girl, Woman, Other / Bernadine Evaristo (2019)
Evaristo pulls off one of the greatest denouements I’ve ever experienced in this kaleidoscopic and virtuosic novel. It’s with good reason she shared the 2019 Booker Prize with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments.
Very gratifying to experience the scope of this novel and be satisfied that one has learned or experienced as much of each character, and they are manifold, as is possible — in essence much like holding a mirror up to the cast of characters that walk in and out of our lives in the course of a lifetime.
Once I settled into the rhythm and language of the novel I was hooked and hard to put down. Very well done.
Blueschild Baby / George Cain (1970)
Even though this 1970 novel was rereleased in 2018, I’d never heard of it until I encountered James Baldwin singing its praises to Nikki Giovanni in A Dialogue (1973) just a couple of weeks ago. If Baldwin thought so highly about the book I felt I had to seek it out.
Blueschild Baby is a sucker punch to the gut and the frontal lobe. Wow!
It is criminal that this book isn’t better known, more widely read, and canonical. It’s reminiscent of the best of Toomer, Wright, Algren, Ellison, Burroughs, Baldwin, and Denis Johnson all at once. This should be one of the cornerstones of addiction / counterculture literature. It is simultaneously disturbing, surreal, poetic, and intensely gritty.
It’s about the intersection of existential angst, otherness, and addiction: “Know now how artificial my desperation is. All my problems are created by the time and place I live in.”
Cain is unmatched in his ability to command poetic language, vernacular, and a complex synthesis:
“Awareness is your crime, for once you become aware, you cannot help reacting in a manner contrary to the system that oppresses you. Very few commit crime because they enjoy doing so. They do what they have to. So many leaders are convicts. Awareness is a crime and sanity the only insanity, they are such rare qualities these days, they go unrecognized for what they are and are seen only as deviate from the madness that is normalcy.”
Cain’s personal story, which I researched after reading this book, was the basis of this novel. Tragically, he never wrote another novel, despite living until 2010, due to the continuing struggle with substance abuse.
“But the anger is in all of us, needing only time or incident to blossom. Fear has done what countless leaders couldn’t, rallied us together. Like a riot in a penitentiary, there is no middle ground or neutrals, color of skin determines what side you’re on. No longer is there choice or free will.”
George Cain / Blueschild Baby